Monthly Archives: December 2013

Keeping the facts straight.

Some time back I was reading a story when half way through the story the facts changed. It’s one thing for a viewpoint to change. Two people might not agree on exactly what happened. The narrative should stay consistent.

I remember one story where it took a couple of days to go from point A to point B later it took several weeks. I’ve seen climate changes and even name changes within a story.

It can be hard keeping track of everything. I’ve worried about that myself. I may introduce a Character then we may not see him/her again for several chapters. How will I keep it all straight?

I’ve created my own fantasy world things to not happen here on Earth. I have several ideas I am working on that all take place in the same world. In order to keep track of things I need maps. First a world map. Next drill down to the continents, then to countries cities and in some cases specific buildings. My world started out when I was a Dungeon Master playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. These detailed maps allowed me to keep track of where everyone was, describe the terrain, etc. These same maps allows me to provide detail to my story. If we go into a pub what is the atmosphere, the lay out. Today there is a heath in the middle of the room with a deer roasting over the fire. The bartender cuts a slap off to serve the party members. Weeks later we are in the same city they remember how good the service and food was so return to the same pub only this time a fight breaks out. Does someone get knocked into the heath?

I use excel spread sheets to keep track of things. Each of my characters are entered in with their name maybe a nickname, a description, personality, speech, and so forth. It is important to make your characters as real as possible that includes habits both good and bad. Zentar the oldest son of an Elven Lord feels that because of his birthright he is better than everyone else. He goes on to take advantage of others claiming who and what he wants. When his greatest desire is denied him he goes off in a rage. His brother Candurn being the younger son does not hold himself in such high esteem. Instead He works hard learning to serve his family and his people. When the time comes for their father to select his successor because of his humility it is the younger Candurn whom is selected.

These spread sheets also contain governments, affiliations, guilds, etc. Not everyone who has pledged support of the king is true in their actions. Who can the king really trust? Little facts like these can add a lot to a story. Facts, stories, legions, histories are all things you should record. The king may not trust an adviser because of things that happened in the past. Yet that untrusted adviser may become the king’s best ally.


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New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again time to set our new year’s resolutions. For many of us we just did that twelve months ago and our goals died almost as soon as the ink dried on the paper. I know mine did. Part of the problem is that we set ourselves up to fail. We set goals that are too lofty or too general. We need to be specific setting goals that are obtainable Ones that allow us to see progress. Breaking big goals into smaller bit size pieces. One of my goals for last year was to lose weight. I did but then I gained it back again only to lose it again before repeating the cycle. Now we are at the end of the year and I am right about where I started the year. Maybe a better goal would have been to eat healthier or eat less.

In a recent Talk last Sunday Brother Nash mentioned that we all have weaknesses handicaps that hold us back. Some are visual, in that others can see or hear them. Watch me walk or attempt to do things and the effects of my stroke become apparent. Listen to me talk and I sound like I have an accent. Not apparent is my hearing problem that makes it difficult to distinguish between like sounds. Many weaknesses are invisible to the naked eye. Low self esteem, depression, dyslexia, are among the large list. God gave us weaknesses to make us strong. Whatever our challenges are we have the strength to overcome them. Sometimes however we need help.

There is no shame in admitting we need help to overcome a problem. In fact it is a sign of strength. In the Air Force Officer’s Candidate Training School. The obstacle course is designed so no one can complete it without help. It takes team work to succeed. So it is with life we can’t succeed alone we all need help. From our family, our friends, and even others. Everyone has been given weaknesses to overcome, and strength to help not just ourselves but others. I worked in the computer industry for much of my adult life. I know a lot about computer hardware but not as much about the software. Though I took programming classes as part of my training, it is not my expertise. In the 1990’s I took a series of classes to improve my skill with several office applications. Yet I can’t write a good database. I need help.

The Devil is the Father of Lies. He will tell us that we should be able to do it all on our own. That admitting our mistakes is a sigh of weakness. The truth is admitting out weaknesses is a sign of strength and the first step to overcoming them. As we face our challenges no matter what they may be we grow stronger. We will not reach perfection in this life but we will become better striving toward becoming the strongest we can be.

Be aware that even after we have worked hard to overcome a weakness it might return to bite us. An alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in years may find him/her self tempted almost to the breaking point. The devil loves to bring up our past in an attempt to snare us. Even if we fail we can always pick ourselves back up and try again. You don’t learn to ride a bike without falling off. So it is in life we learn by making mistakes, backing up and trying again.

Life is full of trials and tests. You don’t have to enjoy them but you do have to pass through them. Make the most of things, be the best you, you can be. In adversity we find strength. Good people go through trials too make them better.

One of my goals this year is to finish my first book. I will do this by writing a little every day. I will miss a day now and then but that’s not failure it’s life. I will press forward and this will be the year I get published.


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Nature vs. Nurture

One of the main discussion points in early childhood development is nature vs. nurture. How much of a child behavior is based on upbringing vs. genetics. The same question can be asked about any animal. Is a pit-bull mean because of its breeding or because of how it was raised?

My world of Kavilion is based on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) in fact many of the ideas come from AD&D roll playing. In AD&D intelligent beings have an alignment. This alignment is like the points of a compass good vs. evil and lawful vs. chaotic. A creature may be lawful good, lawful neutral, lawful evil, neutral good, true neutral, neutral evil, chaotic good, chaotic neutral, or chaotic evil. At first glance one might think that lawfulness and evil are mutually exclusive. Hitler was an example of lawful evil. He followed laws though the rules were not in the best interested of society, he demanded order yet it was an evil order. In AD&D a creature’s race has a lot to do with their alignment some races like Humans can be any alignment others like Drow Elves are chaotic evil. Yet, in R. A. Salvatore books Drizzt a Drow Elf breaks off from Drow Elven society and becomes good. So we must ask is it nature or nurture that makes one the way they are.

In the “Elven Lords” books Lord Ferguson’s sister Moenna is raised by Dryads and becomes a Druid, rare for full elves. She embarks on a quest with her brother to battle an Evil Red Dragon that has been terrorizing the local area. Druids are priest of nature and by their basic character are true neutral believing in a balance of good vs. evil and chaos vs. order. They will fight with the underdog no matter which side against a greater force to restore balance to the world. In this adventure Moenna and her companions slay the evil dragon only to discover an egg. The bulk of the group wants to destroy the egg before it can hatch to become an evil dragon. Moenna insist on protecting the egg allowing the dragon too chose its own path in life. As they are actively discussing the issue the egg hatches our baby red dragon sees Moenna first and attaches to her as its mother. Throughout the remaining books Flame becomes a major part of the story as he grows up in a humanoid world raised by an Elven Druid mother and a human Thief father. He experiences such adventures as getting a claw stuck while learning to pick a pocket then in panic flaming his intended victim. Getting excited and burning their house down. He must learn that things in this world are not as straight forward as one might hope. Just because mommy screams when daddy tickles her doesn’t mean she needs to be protected. Flame goes on to become a Druid proving that nurture not nature is the rule.

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